9-y-o crowned Trelawny Spelling Bee champion
Kerry-Ann Hepburn, Children's Own Coordinator
Falmouth, Trelawny:WHILE TOURISTS explored the 187-year-old William Knibb Memorial Baptist Church in Falmouth, Trelawny, 23 of the parish's top spellers lined up for spellmistress Marlene Stephenson Dalley at the church hall just a stone's throw away. With no defending champion, the race for the title of parish champion was wide open with a fresh cohort.
After a few rounds, the numbers had dwindled, leaving the final 10 to battle. With each round, the competition got harder to predict as it seemed that everyone was in it for the long haul.
The top five were decided after Theondra Hamilton of Clark's Town Primary dropped out. That's when the real battle started. Four rounds down and then there were three, and the champion boy, Jordan Nugent of Granville Primary, was announced, but sadly, left the competition soon after.
Toni-Ann Watson of Granville Primary and Natahlia Miller of Hague Primary were the Bees remaining. In the end, Natahlia, with quiet confidence, came through, when she spelt the word N-A-U-T-I-C-A-L.
In a true show of sportsmanship, the first thing Natahlia did was hug Toni-Ann, who was disappointed at not winning the title.
When asked about her win, nine-year-old Natahlia paused, then replied: "Words can't describe how I feel."
The precocious speller says she wasn't worried about winning going into the competition.
"I did my part and trusted that the Lord would do the rest," she told The Gleaner.
First-time coach Latoya Basco was pleased with the results.
"We started at the beginning of September, and I've asked for all their spare time, and Natahlia gave me that. She is always ready and willing to work," said Coach Basco.
As it relates to the national finals, Basco and her team have their eyes on the top prize.
"We stand a good chance. I'm just looking at Washington. Natahlia is persistent, determined and confident - the whole package for a winner, a national winner and an international winner."
This is Natahlia's first time at the Bee.
1. Natahlia Miller, Hague Primary
2. Toni-Ann Watson, Granville Primary
3. Jordan Nugent, Granville Primary
4. Shamoya Black, Hampden Primary
5. Andrew McIntosh, Wakefield Primary
Top Boy: Jordan Nugent
Winning Word: N-A-U-T-I-C-A-L